Volunteer ensures Christmas comes early for needy kids Nonprofit fills gift boxes for children all over globe

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ALPHARETTA, Ga. – Business consultant and year-round Operation Christmas Child volunteer Yvonne Long has recently returned from delivering more than100 gift-filled shoeboxes to the Operation Christmas Child (OCC) headquarters in Boone, N.C.

Now back at home in Alpharetta, Long has begun packing again in a personal mission to support the Atlanta team’s goal of collecting 45,000 gift-filled shoeboxes for 2012.

“I only became aware of Operation Christmas Child just before National Collection Week in November of last year, but quickly became passionate about playing a role in spreading hope and love to needy children around the world,” Long said. “I didn’t want to wait a whole year to be part of this meaningful initiative, so I decided to become a year-round volunteer.”

Operation Christmas Child is a project of Samaritan’s Purse, a non-denominational Christian humanitarian organization that works worldwide to assist people in physical need alongside their Christian missionary work. In 2011, OCC collected and delivered 8.6 million shoebox gifts to needy children around the world – 38,000 of those gifts were collected in the metro-Atlanta area.

“Since joining the OCC volunteer team in January, I have learned so much about this complex operation and how every gift item is enjoyed time and time again,” she said. “Literally nothing is wasted, as these children have so little.

“Even the wrapping paper is often used as decoration,” she said. “For many, it will be the only gift they receive in a lifetime. For me, it’s not a question of why should I participate, more a question of how could I not?”

The Atlanta team is hosting a kickoff event on Saturday, Aug. 18 from 10:30-11:30 a.m. at First Baptist Church of Atlanta, 4400 North Peachtree Road. This is in preparation for this year’s National Collection Week, Nov. 12-19.

The Atlanta-area team is always recruiting volunteers and participants in various capacities. To learn more, please contact the Southeast regional office at 770-777-9342 or visit www.samaritanspurse.org.